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Apr 04, 2014 - 06:32 PM
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Military Family Receives Grocery Surprise of a Lifetime
Posted by: newsla on Apr 04, 2014 - 06:29 PM
Tidbits
Military Family Receives Grocery Surprise of a Lifetime


Through the smoke of burning rubber and Eckrich smoked sausage on the grill came the surprise of a lifetime for Army Sergeant Ralph Harroff and his family Friday morning in Ft. Worth, Texas. Eckrich, through its partnership with Richard Petty Motorsports and Operation Homefront, surprised Harroff and his family at a Kroger grocery store when Aric Almirola, driver of the No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford, raced through the parking lot, jumped out of the famed No. 43 and surprised the family with an invitation to an all-expenses paid shopping spree inside the grocery store.

 

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Once inside, Almirola directed Harroff and his wife to the meat aisle where he loaded the family's shopping cart with plenty of Eckrich smoked sausage. Eckrich also helped the family shop for essential food, and other items, to help provide for them and their young daughter. As Almirola led the family through check-out, he had one more surprise. Almirola presented the Harroffs with authentic Eckrich racing crew uniforms and invited them to be special guests of Eckrich and Richard Petty Motorsports at this Sunday's NASCAR race at the Texas Motor Speedway, where they will receive VIP treatment including the opportunity to watch the race from atop the Eckrich pit box. In addition, Almirola presented the family with $430 in Kroger gift cards for future shopping needs.

The surprise was part of the Eckrich "Operation Inspiration" campaign which supports and honors military families. Sgt. Harroff was deployed to Afghanistan in 2009 where he was in charge of the safety and security of a brigade command. One day on the job, Sgt. Harroff lost his footing as he stepped off of a helicopter, resulting in damaged ligaments and long-term pain.

At the time of his injury, the Harroffs were also expecting their new daughter. Operation Homefront stepped in and gave the family a place to live and the additional help they needed. After hearing the story of this military family, Eckrich, part of the John Morrell Food Group, a subsidiary of Smithfield Foods, Inc., wanted to do something special to honor and assist the family.

"This is really what 'Operation Inspiration' is all about," said Charles Gitkin, vice president, marketing, innovation and R&D for the John Morrell Food Group. "We heard the story of Army Sgt. Ralph Harroff and his family. It's families like these that inspire us to honor and assist them, and give them an experience they will never forget. Aric Almirola and the Richard Petty Motorsports team have been great partners and will provide the family with a very rewarding day on Sunday."

Almirola, who was born on an Air Force base, is a husband and father of two young children and appreciates the sacrifices of the Harroff family more than ever before.

"This is a family that I can really relate with," said Almirola. "Growing up in a military family, and now being a father myself, I can understand the sacrifices the Harroff family has made. It makes me feel good that I can work with Eckrich to help honor and give back to military families. I know we put a smile on their faces today and hopefully we helped them out with some of their needs, including a lot of Eckrich smoked sausage and other groceries - and we will show them a great time at the track this Sunday."

For Sgt. Ralph Harroff, today was truly a day he will not forget.

"I just couldn't believe it," said Harroff after the event. "It's something that I'll never forget. Operation Homefront has done so much for our family already, but to have Eckrich and Aric Almirola give us a shopping spree for my family, and to invite us to be a part of the race team this weekend, it means a lot. There are so many deserving military families, I just feel lucky to be honored like this."

Now in its third year of partnership with Operation Homefront, a national nonprofit which provides emergency financial and other assistance to the families of service members and wounded warriors,Eckrich has already donated more than a half a million dollars to the charity. Eckrich is again donating up to $250,000 this year through the contribution of five cents from each purchase of specially marked products from May 1 through July 4.

Almirola and the No. 43 Eckrich Ford will race Sunday at the Texas Motor Speedway. The event will be televised nationally live by FOX and beginning at 3 p.m. ET.


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